Hello you. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks here at Fog Towers, settling into both the new year and a prolonged bout of ‘flu’ that has rather hampered productivity since that bumper period during the festive season, when, as you’ll recall, I turned my parent’s dining room table into a sound laboratory. However, I’m fighting fit again now and working on new projects, details of which will hopefully be revealed in the coming weeks. In the meantime, however, I’m very excited to announce that A Creak In Time, the experimental film directed by Steven McInerney and with an original score by Howlround has made the official selection for 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam! Details of screenings can be found here and you can still purchase a copy of the soundtrack on heavyweight vinyl soundtrack (with complimentary streaming and download links) on the website of Steve’s Psyché Tropes label. I think I can safely say it’s the most beautiful project I’ve ever been involved with…
In other news, I was planning to present my annual review of the previous year on these pages at the beginning of the month, but was prevented from doing so by the onset of this aforementioned spiteful strain of lurgy that I’ve been wrestling with. I recognise it’s rather late to be doing it now that we’re firmly into 2018, but I’m also a real stickler for tradition (or if you prefer ‘doing the same thing over and over again until being asked to stop’); so I decided I’d just pick 10 of my favourite moments at random below, and leave it at that. Here, then, in no particularly order:
1. The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch ‘Secret’ Nuclear Bunker:
Where to even start with this one? This take-over of a genuine nuclear bunker by the many-headed beast that is the Delaware Road collective was surely the most stunning evening of the year in terms of sheer scale and ambition, not to mention venue. Howlround’s set in the Telex Room (together with mannequin tape restrainers) earned a nod of approval from the legend that is Steve Davis! A credit to both the slightly disturbed imagination of Buried Treasure Records lynchpin Alan Gubby and the distinctly disturbing presence of the headmasterly Dolly Dolly, acting as a sort-of Churchill-channelling master of ceremonies. Hoping for more of the same in 2018.
2. Further at The Portico Gallery:
Performing the first ever live soundtrack to A Creak In Time</em>, alongside DJ sets from Jim and Julian of Ghost Box, plus hosts DJ Food and Peter Williams. With projections and film loops covering every single inch of the venue, Further was second only to the Delaware Road in terms of sheer visual spectacle – and they didn’t have a Nuclear Bunker to play with! Again, more in 2018, please!
3. Deliaphonic at Coventry Cathedral:
A celebration of the life and work of Radiophonic pioneer Delia Derbyshire on what would have been her 80th birthday, in the hallowed surroundings of Coventry’s magnificent Cathedral. Howlround performed alongside the legendary Peter Zinovieff, Pete Kember of Sonic Boom, Hannah Peel, Jonny Trunk and the ever-affable Jerry Dammers. A worthy tribute to a remarkable life – and yet another fantastic venue to tick off the list!
5. Yes, Damage!:
A second commission from White Noise was this ‘mixtape’ inspired by a cassette recording of London-based pirate radio station ‘Pressure FM’ that I played to death as a teenager. Now badly deteriorated through years of repeated listening and a transmitter that was pretty shaky in the first place, fragments of the recording were looped and layered through the tape machines in an attempt to join the dots between the hardcore and jungle of my youth and the abstract musique concréte-inspired work of my years as a ‘mature’ adult. You can read more about the project in Helen Frosi’s article on the White Noise website.
6. A Can Of Worms:
Helping to celebrate the 100th release of The Tapeworm in fine style with Howlround contributing to the bumper 34-track cassette and an evening of live performances at Iklectik, both of which marked the label’s centenary. I used the occasion to officially unveil the new sounds that I’ve been experimenting with over the past year, and all being well you should be hearing more from this performance in the coming weeks. Watch this space…
7. Royal Institute of British Architects Commission:
A commission by The Royal Institute of British Architects and Nick Luscombe’s Musicity project to produce an original composition using sounds from the RIBA headquarters at 66 Portland Place in Central London. This is a stereo remix of a work originally presented at Musicity’s gala event on 4th April 2017. For a project so obsessed with using buildings and acoustic spaces, where better to begin than a building built FOR architects? I particularly admired their beautiful-sounding floorboards! Special thanks once again to Nick, Meneesha Kellay and Lisa Cullen.
8. The BBC’s First Disc-Cut Report in Over 50 Years:
The first BBC report to be played live on disc for over 50 years, cut by Mike Dixon of Lathecuts.com, during his tour of the UK documenting the work of the song-writer Michael Nau. A sort of weird reverse-history in the making – and I still can’t believe we didn’t get arrested lugging all that gear around the Southbank!
9. Pierre Henry Finally Comes To Liverpool – 50 Years Late:
It was intended to be a bold and futuristic new composition to mark the inaugural mass at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral when it first appeared as a striking addition to the city’s skyline in the 1960s, but due to unforeseen circumstances The Liverpool Mass by renown French composer Pierre Henry missed its deadline. But now, to mark the Cathedral’s 50th anniversary, long running local arts venue The Bluecoat are preparing to finally bring the work back to the building that inspired it […] Robin [The Fog] went along to observe preparations and to discover a work that, five decades after its composition, still retains the shock of the new…
By no means the last word from the great man, who died a few weeks later after a career spanning seven decades and changing the course of music history numerous times. But it was incredible how thrilling and shocking this work remained when it finally got its debut performance in the venue that inspired it, only half a century late…
10. A Creak In Time (Obviously!):
Not Unlike Brian Eno Remixing György Ligeti – Electronic Sound
Image and sound alike point to some unfathomable oceanic bleakness – The Wire
A cinematic triumph of style and substance – Wallpaper* Magazine
I’ve gone on about this album quite a lot this year, I know, but I’m still tremendously proud of it – and of Steve’s magnificent film. Click here to listen to me discussing the album with Elizabeth Alker, as featured on Shawn Keaveny’s 6Music breakfast show, improbably enough. Still can’t quite remember how that happened, but I still totally owe Elizabeth a pint for this one…